Dirt Riding Coverage

The Dirt Issue

I can hear the whining already: "Why is there a dirtbike on your cover? Isn't Motorcyclist for street riders? Hell, it used to say 'World's Largest Streetbike Publication' right under the logo!"

Take a deep breath and relax. Yes, there is a photo of Dirt Rider Editor Jimmy Lewis sliding a KTM 990 Adventure on a dry lake bed on our cover. And-shock! horror!-there are other photos of motorcycles being ridden off-road inside. In fact, we tested no fewer than six such "dirtbikes" in this issue, and for the record, every single one of them is street-legal, even the knobby-shod KTM 450 EXC. So we haven't strayed too far from the pavement.

Not yet, anyway-but we're thinking about it. From 1912 to 1982, Motorcyclist covered the entire spectrum of motorcycling, dirtbikes included. Then our former parent company Petersen Publishing launched Dirt Rider, and the off-road coverage went away. Later, our sportbike audience took a hit with the launch of Sport Rider. And then metric cruisers with Motorcycle Cruiser, touring with Escape and custom sportbikes with Super Streetbike-to say nothing of the American Motorcycle Group that produces Hot Bike, Hot Rod Bike Works and Street Chopper. If we stopped covering each of those niches, as we did dirtbikes, there'd be nothing left to write about but standards and vintage bikes-not coincidentally two staples of this magazine. Shouldn't Motorcyclist be a full-spectrum magazine?

Before I was named editor, I sat through a series of interviews with the people who run our current parent company Primedia, and had to explain to each of them my vision for the magazine. I'm not big on pie charts-they remind me of accountants, who are just one layer of slime away from lawyers-but at one of those meetings I described Motorcyclist as a tree and asked, "How can you tell what kind of tree it is with all its leaves removed?"

I'd like to put some of those leaves back on the tree. And what better place to begin than in the dirt?

That doesn't mean Motorcyclist is going to start doing motocross comparisons again, but would it be so bad if we did a one-pager once in a while if a new bike warranted it? Most of our readers probably don't ride dirtbikes anymore, but I'll bet the vast majority started off-road. I know everyone on our staff did; check out the Staff Bios page of motorcyclistonline.com and you'll see. So while you might not be in the market for a new motocrosser, I bet you'd enjoy reading about one... or a supermoto, dual-sport or adventure-tourer. The response from Tim's "Trail Therapy" article in our November issue and my Springfield Mile story in December would back up that contention.

I do most of my riding on asphalt nowadays, but I have to admit I have just as much fun in the dirt. Before I started here (and suddenly got very busy), I rode motocross a couple of times per month, and was often asked if I preferred that over roadracing. That's a tough question to answer. Roadracing is exhilarating because of the speed, and it's supremely satisfying to do a "perfect lap," or a bunch in succession. But in motocross the track changes from lap to lap, which makes it that much more difficult. It's also much more physically demanding; never mind the infomercials, motocross is the total body workout. More than that, it makes me feel young at heart. And there's still no better way to improve your riding skills-even the world's best roadracers agree on that.

But you know that already. If you're like us-and if you're a faithful Motorcyclist reader, you undoubtedly are-you appreciate all motorcycles, street or dirt. We may not have covered dirtbikes for the last 25 years, but we did so for 70 before that. Maybe it's time again?